President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps on March 1, 1961. In the fifty years since, nearly 200,000 Americans have served in 139 countries, providing technical assistance, promoting a better understanding of American culture, and bringing the world back to the United States.
In Voices from the Peace Corps: Fifty Years of Kentucky Volunteers, Angene Wilson and Jack Wilson, who served in Liberia from 1962 to 1964, follow the experiences of volunteers as they make the decision to join, attend training, adjust to living overseas and the job, make friends, and eventually return home to serve in their communities. They also describe how the volunteers made a difference in their host countries and how they became citizens of the world for the rest of their lives. Among many others, the interviewees include a physics teacher who served in Nigeria in 1961, a smallpox vaccinator who arrived in Afghanistan in 1969, a nineteen-year-old Mexican American who worked in an agricultural program in Guatemala in the 1970s, a builder of schools and relationships who served in Gabon from 1989 to 1992, and a retired office administrator who taught business in Ukraine from 2000 to 2002. Voices from the Peace Corps emphasizes the value of practical idealism in building meaningful cultural connections that span the globe.
"Using the myriad stories from the men and women interviewed by Angene and Jack Wilson and others is, without much doubt, the best way to tell the Peace Corps's story. The stories and memories of five decades' worth of Peace Corps veterans show that the commercial was right: it was the toughest job they ever loved." -- Troy Reeves, University of Wisconsin--Madison Oral History Program
"Angene and Jack Wilson have a lovely, crisp writing style that carries the narrative along, blending general information with individual stories. Voices from the Peace Corps describes an important piece of the American experience." -- Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman, author of All You Need is Love: The Peace Corps and the Spirit of the 1960s
"Find a comfortable rocking chair... Angene and Jack Wilson have woven together a compelling and inspiring story of how Kentuckians were called to serve in the Peace Corps, and, in turn, how that experience changed their lives and contributed to Kentucky and the rest of the country. The Wilsons have provided a great and timely service to the entire Peace Corps community in collecting and sharing these compelling oral histories." -- Kevin Quigley, President, The National Peace Corps Association
"The poignant photograph on the cover of this book in many ways epitomizes the daily life of Peace Corps Volunteers serving overseas. To the almost 200,000 returned volunteers living in the United States and throughout the world, their time in the Peace Corps was a singular experience of a lifetime. It's a mind changing adventure that results in how they look at the world and carries with them open and positive attitudes in all the present and future work they may do. I hope you will enjoy reading these interviews with returned Kentucky volunteers who share their unique but common experiences of living for two years in another culture. Angie Wilson and Jack Wilson are to be congratulated for their passion and hard work in collecting these personal stories." -- James Archambeault, Peace Corps Volunteer, Philippines 1965-1967
""You will be rewarded when you read it, and you will have in your personal library a book unlike any other written on the subject of the peace corps, and one destined to be cited source for all coming Peace Corps books."-- Peacecorpswriters.org" --
""Allows volunteers to elaborate on the reasons they joined and lets them discuss their training, adjustments to living overseas, jobs, the friends they made, and their readjustment upon returning home."-- Lexington Herald-Leader" --
"'Why did you join the Peace Corps?'...'How are you using your Peace Corps experience now?'...Those [are] interesting stories [that] we rarely have time to explore. Well, now we do." -- Friends of Fiji Newsletter
"Peace Corps veterans themselves, the authors compile an enlightening archive of stories from Kentuckians who have been abroad with the organizaiton. The entries are organized thematically, mixing in the expereinces of persons stationed across the globe-a particularly fascinating editorial choice which emphsizes the many common experiences that Kentuckians have had while reaching out to the world." -- Register of the Kentucky Historical Society
"An instructive and enjoyable read. Angene and Jack Wilson have provided historians with a valuable service." -- Ohio Valley History